Digital Technology and Student Engagement

Student engagement- sounds simple but truly is a challenge. In traditional class rooms, it may be an easy measure. For example, how many students ask questions, whether or not students have completed the weekly assignment, and so on? However, beyond conventional classrooms and measurements, how can a teacher measure his or her student’s engagement when the latter resorts to technology? Does technology facilitate to live by seven golden Principles of improving Undergraduate Education? The answer is both Yes and No.

Consider that student A, for example, who uses word processor for writing a paper in comparison to student B who uses just pen and paper. We can’t say that Student A is more engaged than student B just because Student A used technology. In fact, Student A essentially learned and demonstrated same information as student B did but Student A used the technology to facilitate the process. In contrast, had the Student A used any kind of collaboration software to share experiences and ideas with other fellow students and then presented the unified or evolved thinking in his or her paper, the process would have qualified to be called as engaging.

Thus the argument that I am forwarding is that technology is no panacea for student engagement. There’s a plethora of technology out there but one needs to decide what’s right for him or her and what technology is best for your particular classroom.


Posted on February 8, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I hope that Jeff and I are not suggesting that technology is a panacea for student engagement. Just the opposite…we are suggesting that one use the 7 Principles as a lens to inform potential use of technology. For instance, if one wants to improve faculty-student interaction, are office hours the only avenue, or could the use of something like a Facebook class page or other social media – intentionally used by the faculty – lead to better and increased interaction?

    Technology has many facets. Paper and pencil are technologies, as are chalkboards. The web has simply opened up new opportunities that did not exist in the past century, just as paper and pencil did for teaching in the 18th century. As new technologies appear, the initial reaction by those who have not used them is outright rejection (look back in history and you will see that pencils were rejected by those who used slate boards).

    We know that…we are just asking for a second look. 🙂

  2. I would agree that technology is not a panacea for student engagement. However, the counter argument would be resisting to encourage and embrace technology with our 21st century student may fail to challenge them or encourage the to explore new and innovative creative processes. Nothing wrong with holding on to the old while simultaneously embracing the new…

  3. “There’s a plethora of technology out there but one needs to decide what’s right for him or her and what technology is best for your particular classroom.”

    I agree with this statement. I believe that, as future faculty members, we need to familiarize ourselves with the new technologies that are being developed and maybe stretch our imaginations as to how these new things could be used as a way for engaging our students. I know that in the time that I was an undergraduate, technology was used very sparingly in any of my courses so it is my natural default to fall into that mode of thinking. I think that today’s undergraduates have grown up with technology playing a larger part in their education and we probably need to work on being more open to the different roles that technology can play in the classroom.

  4. Thank You All for the comments. It’s true that any newly introduced technology faces an outward rejection and criticism initially but even the laggards accept it once the benefits of change becomes evident. I guess it a matter of time

  5. Piaget said “The principle goal of education is to create men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done.”

    Sometimes those new things may be technology-enhanced, other times not.There is no doubt that technology change has a great impact on society as a whole, pretty sure it needs to impact education as well. Doing it well and adding value to the learning are two of the hard parts. Thanks for sharing.

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